Wrigleyville Bar Project: Harry Caray's

With the name Saloon included in our moniker, one could surmise that we here at TMS like to drinky drinky. One that would make such an assumption would be correct, thereby throwing out the whole, 'when you assume you make an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me' bullshit. We're here to profile some of the local watering holes around Wrigley, so that you aren't the poor sap who gets dragged into going to the Cubby Bear before the game, wherein you are soon left wondering how your life spiraled out of control so quickly. Tommy Buzanis has pledged to help out with this column, as he is no stranger to the bottle, but you can rest assured that those promises are as empty as his shot glass. So here it is, another sporadically timed, mildly entertaining column that you can only find here at the TMS. Actually you can probably find lots of info on Wrigley bars in a much more concise and helpful format, but that's neither here nor there.

Today's Bar: Harry Caray's Tavern

Website: http://www.harrycaraystavern.com/

Douchebag Factor (1-10, with 10 being this guy): 7

Who You'll See Here: The crowd was pretty diverse and there were even a few Mets fans hanging around from after the game. Since it's right across from the park you can expect a lot of overflow from games before, during, and after.

What to order: The menu is a dumbed-down version of the original restaurant that mostly caters to the bar & grill crowd with lots of appetizers and sandwiches. If you go during a game you can take advantage of the burger bar where you can build any of the half-dozen or so burgers to your liking. The signature chicken Vesuvio is on there as well which, if you're not there during a game, is worth ordering. The beer selection wasn't anything special. Mostly the same draught selections as other bars with a two wild cards on tap depending on the time of year.

If you were to see a celebrity here, it would be: Dutchie, Joe Mantegna, Gary Sinese, Dwight Smith

Summary: I decided to take a walk down to Harry's last night after most of the game crowd was heading home so I knew I wasn't about to have a game day experience. That having been said, I probably learned more about the place than I would have had it been packed. The first thing I noticed was how different everything was from how things used to look when it was called Hi Tops. Instead of a big bar in the middle of everything there was a big open area with some tables that can be cleared away to make room for a dance floor. The bar, measuring 60 feet 6 inches, spans the entire right side of the bar. The look of the bar takes a cue from the original restaurant and most of the walls and ceiling are all dark wood covered in pictures of celebrities and sports memorabilia. You can't miss a huge bust of Harry himself just to the left of the entrance.

Just like every other bar in the neighborhood there are TV's in every direction including a monster 123-inch screen near the back that wasn't being used last night. There are even a few TVs in the bathroom, lest you miss even a second of whatever game you were watching before the Old Style caught up to you.

Our waitress was nice but it took forever to get our first round of beers. She came back and apologized saying that she was working the end of a double shift on game day and that she had a show downtown when she was done so her mind was a little fried. Of course, no problem. A show huh? Let's see, short skirt (check), low-cut shirt (check), high leather boots (check).......nahhh. So I, being the inquisitive type, begged the question:

Me: "So you're going to see a show downtown after you're done working?"

Barmaid: "Oh, no no no, I'm actually in a show."

Me: (fighting laughter) "Oh REALLY?"

According to her she used to be a lawyer and didn't like that line of work so now she works as an improv actress. Suuuuure she does. And I bet she takes those pole dancing classes for the cardio. Gotta keep that resting heart rate up! No, I'm just kidding, strippers don't have hearts. Wakka wakka!

Anyway, I pulled aside a helpful bus boy and grilled him about details. If my broken English was on par, there are rarely, if ever, any drink specials. The upstairs is open on game days and on weekend nights with some couches and there's a VIP room that you can reserve if you order bottle service. Usually the bar is open until 11 but on weekends they stay open until about 4 am. He also mentioned that Dutchie has made a number of appearances and, this comes as no surprise, is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. Just ask Chaim and Tommy Buzanis. For a bus boy, he had an awful lot of information, don't you think?

All in all I think this place will be pretty popular with the kiddies. Think of it as a "classy" Cubby Bear.

Thunder Matt Rating: 7 empty Old Style cans out of a 12 pack.

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